For the first time since that infamous Access Hollywood bus tape, Billy Bush is speaking out.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Billy Bush told his side of the story, seven months since the incident. Overall, the interview is pretty expected and follows usual procedures and phrasing when it comes to these kinds of public apologies. It’s so-so. But there are a few key pieces that really bug me and really makes me not buy into it.
For starters, he never really apologizes. He talks about how he’s embarrassed and what an impact it’s made on his life, but I didn’t see any apology that isn’t shrouded in “I’m embarrassed” or other self-serving/pitying language.
Additionally, he uses the “I have daughters so that’s why I care” theme, that always seems to swirl around when some sort of sexist comment/act is in the news. Of course having daughters is important, but you should care beyond that. Bush said,
“If a moment like that arose again, I would shut it down quickly. I am in the women-raising business, exclusively. I have three daughters — Mary, Lillie, Josie — and I care very much about the world and the people they encounter.”
Yes, that is valid. But he should care even if he was single and didn’t have children.
On top of that, he uses the word “trauma” and “traumatic” a few times. Does that sound like he’s making himself a victim to anyone else? He later says “I’m not a victim. There are people who are going through things far worse than me,” which I obviously agree with. So what’s with the pity-party?
Finally, probably the most aggravating part is he repeatedly explains that he should have just changed the topic with Trump, asking him if he wanted water, or about the weather. Yes, changing the topic would have been better than egging him on, but that’s not enough. He should have shut down the conversation. Even if he didn’t go into full-fledged feminist rant, he should have at least diplomatically called out what he saw. In hindsight all he’d want to say is “hmm maybe I should have asked about the weather instead”? That doesn’t show change to me.
Overall, I don’t necessarily think the apology is disingenuous. He wants to get back into the media game, so he has to be cautious with what he says. But if he wants to show growth and change, he has to show stronger action against misogynistic language. Instead, his interview felt self-pitying and like he had faced some sort of near-death experience. Continually saying “I messed up and I’m embarrassed” isn’t enough. I need to see more concrete action to be convinced.